Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4th, 1776 and the Declaration of Independence

A total of 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence.

Five of the signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army.
Another had two sons captured.
Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor.

What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
Eleven were merchants.
Nine were farmers and large plantation owners.
These were men of means who were well educated.

But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam
was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton had their properties looted by vandals or soldiers.

Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters during the battle of Yorktown. Nelson quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis
had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart
was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted...We shouldn't.

So, take a couple of minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Flag Burning

You can tell that the Fourth of July is close by when the online posts start mentioning flag burning. When Hell does finally freeze over, they’ll realize that burning a flag is the ultimate expression of free speech.

There are, of course, certain necessary limits to free speech. You cannot, for example, yell out “FIRE!!” in a crowded theater. Why? Because this could harm your fellow citizens, perhaps fatally. But burning a flag harms no-one. As long as you’re not doing it in a field of dry grass, it’s fine!!

Some will say “I/We/My ancestors fought and died for that flag.” My response is…no, slave labor MADE this flag for WalMart, which is where I bought it. If anything, people died for the freedom it REPRESENTS!! That freedom was a freedom to do as we please, to think as we please, to say as we please, to worship as we please.

I always wonder about flag “retirement.” The local Nob Hill grocery store has a nice little booth up front where you can: drop off/pick up your dry cleaning, buy stamps, get film developed, buy lottery tickets, OH and retire a flag. Retire a flag, you say?!? Yes, retire a flag. And how, pray tell, do they “retire” a flag? By burning it. Boy Scouts, American Legion, they all do it. But because they get dressed up and play some music, it’s okay when they do it. That’s similar to when Howard Stern got reprimanded for saying words like “pussy” and “cunt” but Sally Jessy and Oprah did entire shows on vaginas and said the word “vagina” over and over again. I understand that context is important but it cannot be used to stifle the rights of the individual.

I’m waiting for those opposed to flag burning to come up with a better argument than “it erodes the very foundation of our country.” Until then, God bless America!!

The Fourth of July

I love the Fourth. There’s Presidents Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, heck even trees have a day to themselves!! I think it’s only right that pyromaniacs get a national holiday. :D For the record, I say that purely in jest.

Gilroy is the only city in Santa Clara County that still permits the selling of fireworks. Watsonville just banned them after the recent arson and lightning fires. Hollister still sells them. The hysteria reared its ugly head in Gilroy for the briefest of moments. Alas, the torch-wielding villagers were held at bay by common sense and a 5-1 vote of the city council. We cannot allow knee-jerk reactions to dictate laws and erode our civil liberties even more. There will ALWAYS be those Darwin-challenged idiots who intentionally or unintentionally start fires with "safe and sane" fireworks. But you can't let yourself be scared into spoiling it for the rest of us!! Most of us KNOW not to light off bottle rockets into a neighborhood of wood-shingled homes or to light a roman candle in a field of dry grass. If so, you'd have to outlaw cars because of all the accidents that kill people every year.

I love fireworks. The louder, the brighter, the better. Before I got my ass fired, I had a list of favorites. But, as space was a premium on my jump drive and my boss didn’t give me ALL DAY to download my personal stuff from my laptop, the file was one which I chose to delete rather than save. The two fireworks I do remember, mostly because we get them every year, are: Purple Rain and Lightning Flash. Purple Rain is a small fountain that reaaaaaaally cool. Lightning Flash is a white phosphorus strobe disc about the size of a quarter.

And you can't forget about the appropriate soundtrack. Kate Smith, Ray Charles, John Mellencamp, Toby Keith, Chris de Burgh (the Revolution trilogy from The Getaway). It's just not the same without the music blaring while you light the sky.

God bless America!!